In the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, what started off as a decorating job turned into a full-blown renovation for Nicole Hollis, founder of Nicole Hollis Interior Design. “When I walked inside, I knew it needed to be redone,” she recalls. “The cabinets were made of plastic laminate that was peeling off, it was really small, and the rooms just didn’t fit.”
The resident, a young banking professional, wanted his home to be a place to entertain friends, which was difficult with the existing layout of intertwined, oddly positioned private and public spaces. Hollisleft the 1940s exterior intact but “blew up the upstairs to put in a new kitchen upstairs and move the master suite downstairs.”
The renovated home, which is entered at a middle level with stairs going up and down, places the private spaces–the master suite, guest room, guest bathroom, workout room/office, steam room, and laundry room–on the lower level, and the public spaces–the kitchen, living room, dining room, family room, and media room, plus a bathroom–on the upper level.
Downstairs, Hollis situated the master bedroom next to the exterior patio with a large sliding door between the two in order to open up the space. The renovation also included adding structural steel supports so that the resident can build a third level in the future and move the master suite to the top floor. “He was really nervous about moving the bedroom to the lower level,” Hollis says, “but because of that, we were able to put in an exhibition kitchen and now he’s been able to have so many parties, though he worries that the neighbors won’t approve a plan if he does ever want to build upward.”
The kitchen opens up to the dining room, where Hollis played with size and shape. She designed the solid French oak dining table and bench, which were fabricated by B Serota Furniture and Architectural Design, and flanked the table with a Host and Hostess chair from Coup d’Etat San Francisco. She hung two Piet Boon-designed drum pendants over the table and placed a large mirror on the wall to extend the space so that the person sitting on the bench can see the living room fireplace in the reflection.
Photo by Ben Mayorga Photography
The new upper level is a mix of large and intimate public spaces. The kitchen features a main cooking and entertaining area that flows to a built-in bar and out to the living and dining rooms, which work together as a great room. At the other end of the kitchen, there’s a small family room for quiet conversation. The media room is connected to the living room with a door that closes for someone to enjoy a movie or read a book without disturbing anyone else in the house.
For the furnishings, the resident knew he wanted a modern aesthetic. “He kept presenting very European, minimal-design advertisements to me,” Hollis remembers. “He was born in Japan, his parents are from England, and he was raised in California, but he has a very European sensibility. He knew he wanted something modern but had no idea how to get there.”